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Monday, 17 April, 2000, 23:43 GMT 00:43 UK
Young men 'failed over suicide'
Suicide rates three times as high for young men as women
No effective action is being taken to tackle the rising tide of male suicides, a report says.

The Men's Health Forum describes the loss of thousands of men's lives as "tragic and needless" and calls for better targeting of action.

Glossy men's magazines have also been blamed for creating a false image of a male-dominated society that no longer exists, and which prevents young men from adapting to the modern world.

The whole of society has more or less turned a blind eye to the number of suicides among young men

Dr Ian Banks, Men's Health Forum
The report, published on Tuesday by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health, said the fact that men take more risks with their physical and mental health should be taken into account.

Three times as many young men as young women take their own lives - a total of 3,640 in 1996, up 2% on 1982. The number of women committing suicide fell by 41% during the same period.

Men are known to be far less likely than women to ask for help if they have problems.

The report "Young Men and Suicide" says services provided by local health and community groups, and government policies, are not properly monitored.

Prevention schemes

It calls for prevention schemes to work across organisations, including schools, voluntary groups, the probation service and accident and emergency departments.

Schools and youth services are urged to do more to develop young men's emotional and communication skills and services should be better tailored to make them more likely to attract young men's attention, the report says.

A survey of health authorities carried out by the Men's Health Forum for the report found that just a handful have policies in place to deal with suicide.

Some said that health professionals lacked expertise in dealing with young men or that suicide was seen as a relatively low priority.

Dr Ian Banks, chairman of the Men's Health Forum and spokesman on the issue for the British Medical Association, told BBC News Online: "The whole of society has more or less turned a blind eye to the number of suicides among young men. There is not the interest.

"If a disease came down to earth and devoured this number of young men, there would be an outcry.

"Health authorities, schools and General Practice all need to address the issue of suicide. GPs should have a high index of suspicion if young men come to see them, because they come so rarely."

Men's magazines blamed

Trefor Lloyd, also of Men's Health Forum, attacked men's magazines for contributing to the problem.

Magazines are looking back to how men were 30 or 40 years ago - life just isn't like that any more

Trefor Lloyd, Men's Health Forum

He said: "Men have had to cope with losing their role as the only breadwinners, rising unemployment and a lowering of expectations.

"They have got to adapt to the modern world but these lads' magazines offer them false hope.

"Those magazines are looking back to how men were 30 or 40 years ago - life just isn't like that any more and men need to adapt and come to terms with that."

Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris MP, a member of the parliamentary group and a former hospital doctor, said: "It is clear that there are many barriers hindering the development of effective policies.

"We should not have to prioritise health needs in this way. Each case is as deserving as the next.

"A national, well-thought strategy where agencies are working together with appropriate funds has to be the way forward."

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See also:

24 May 99 | Health
Men 'need more health care'
29 Jul 99 | Health
Male suicide tops death league
31 Jul 99 | Health
Suicide risk assessed
13 Oct 99 | Health
Drive to reduce suicides
13 Oct 99 | Health
Suicidal 'failed' by NHS
13 Oct 99 | Health
29 Mar 00 | Health
Plans to close men's health gap
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